Monday, January 24, 2005

Mark Helprin on "Our Blindness" in Today's WSJ:
A hundred years ago, Republican presidential incumbent Theodore Roosevelt had just defeated the now obscure Judge Alton B. Parker, the army had long been fighting Muslim insurrectionists in the Philippines and was recasting itself to fight insurgencies, reformers were concerned with the environment and money politics, and the country's meat supply was viewed with suspicion.

Those absorbing passions would nonetheless prove completely irrelevant to the influenza pandemic that little more than a decade later would kill 50 million people, including half a million Americans; to the rise of Germany, Japan, and Russia; and to the century's three great wars.

Our own absorbing passions, which are remarkably similar, have blinded us in the same way. We have yet to find a serviceable framework for the application of our military power in the war on terrorism; in view of potential catastrophes of which we have a great deal of forewarning, we have yet to provide adequately for what used to be called civil defense; and we have no policy in regard to China's steady cultivation of power that soon will vie with our own. Though any one of these things is capable of dominating the coming century, not one has been properly addressed.

Mark Helprin is one of my favorite writers. He is very thoughtful and forward thinking. He challenges conservatives with probing and difficult questions. This piece falls into that category, and I recommend it highly. Read the whole thing here.

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